Since her days as a disc jockey at WVUD while a student, Patty Spitler ’76 has been in the communication business. After graduation, she broke the “vinyl ceiling” as one of the first female morning DJs in the country at a time when that coveted time slot was dominated by men.
The communication major eventually moved from radio to TV, anchoring news and entertainment programs at WISH–TV in Indianapolis. In 2005, a severe hearing loss caused Spitler to change her career path.
“I was depressed when I lost my hearing but decided to take what I knew and learn to adapt,” she said.
After that, her career literally went to the dogs. Actually, pets of all kinds. As host and producer of the nationally syndicated PetPalsTV, she reaches 8 million animal-loving households weekly with programming that promotes responsible pet ownership, tells heartwarming stories and offers advice from experts on animal-related topics. As the boss, she selects the co-hosts — like her dogs Mabel and Stewie, her constant companions.
Spitler’s new lifestyle program, “Great Day TV with Patty Spitler,” airs in Indiana markets including Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, with plans for the show to be more widely distributed. As an independent producer, Spitler has control over content and can advocate for issues close to her heart.
“Hearing loss and mental distress — I’ve suffered from both and had to hide that doing the news,” Spitler said. “Now I can offer hope and support. I don’t have to hide my disability, and it’s
a great stress reliever to be open.”
Spitler sits on the board of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and is an advocate and spokesperson for Hearing Indiana, an organization that focuses primarily on children’s auditory health.
Over the years, Spitler has developed a philosophy to deal with setbacks and loss: “I’m busy. I’m relevant. I’m happy. You don’t have to be like everyone else — you make yourself happy by doing what you love.”
We’ll bark to that.No Comments
The shipyard, auto plant and steel mill are gone. But Lorain remains Ohio’s 10th-largest city.
In Louisville, the largest city in Kentucky, college basketball is king — and queen.
Coolville, Ohio, does not have a stop sign.
The hometowns of Alex Harris, JaVonna Layfield and Jenna Burdette are very different. But, according to head coach Shauna Green, the three seniors on the Flyers women’s basketball team have one thing in common: “You know what you are going to get out of them every single night.”
And what that is has been very, very good.
Though the backgrounds of the three have many differences, the common factor of basketball has drawn them together.
Harris has always loved basketball.
“Even before kindergarten, a basketball hoop was her favorite toy,” her mother, Sandra Wright, said.
Harris’ first day of kindergarten was the first day of high school for her sister, Shayla Wright. The two were very close, partially because their mother worked two jobs. Kindergarten for Harris marked not only the beginning of school but the beginning of intensely following her sister’s basketball career.
Harris rode the team bus to games. As her sister recalled, Harris “sat on the end of the bench. Our coach called her our ‘little mascot.’” Later playing for the same high school, Harris — who, unlike her sister, grew to be 6-foot-3 — would pull in more than 1,000 rebounds.
“She’s so intense on the court,” Linda Bradshaw, her partner and longtime friend, said, “but not off. She’s the nicest person I know.”
That opinion is apparently shared by her niece. “Alex is her favorite person in the world,” Shayla Wright said. “When Alex is around, no one else exists.”
Harris is shy, her sister said. And quiet, according to her mother, who said that Penn State, where Harris went to school for two years, “was too big, considering where she’s from. She doesn’t show much emotion, but she did get homesick.”
Transferring to Dayton brought her closer to home and, her sister said, “brought out her full potential.”
At Dayton she would join the outgoing Layfield and the taciturn Burdette, two players whose freshman homesickness was the subject of a Dayton Daily News article in 2015 by Tom Archdeacon ’72. He described the first time that the roommates Burdette and Layfield caught each other crying. They hugged each other.
Layfield was born in Louisville, Kentucky, with basketball in her blood. Athletes run on both sides of her family; one uncle played for Louisville.
High-spirited and energetic, Layfield was always doing some activity. Her mother, Shanneca O’Bannon, said, “We told her, ‘You have to do something, whether it’s sport or debate. You don’t come home and sit on the couch.’”
“We were trying to tire her out,” her grandmother, Gail O’Bannon, said.
Like Harris, Layfield “was a big kid,” her mother said. “Through grade school and middle school she played with her back to the basket.” Then she stopped growing, prompting her AAU coach to work with her on playing facing the basket.
She learned that well, her senior year being named by the Louisville Courier-Journal First Team All-State. But having lived her whole life in Louisville, “she wasn’t sure about leaving,” her mother said. She considered staying in town and attending Bellarmine University, an NCAA Division II school.
Freshman year at Dayton was a struggle for her, her mother said, adding, “I struggled, too, but I didn’t let her see it. When she became fine, I did, too.
“But someone here in Louisville still has to hear her voice every day.”
Often that someone is her grandmother who, when they talk, makes sure Layfield is going to church.
“My mom,” Layfield’s mother said, “would live in the dorm with JaVonna if she could.”
And grandmother did make a lot of trips to Dayton that freshman year.
As did members of the Burdette family.
Coolville may be a lot different from Louisville, but one thing they do have in common — four years ago each had a future Flyer star who was not eager to leave her hometown.
Coolville, according to Jonathan Burdette, Jenna’s older brother, “is in the middle of nowhere.” More precisely it is in southeast Ohio, 30 miles from Ohio University in Athens, where Jonathan attends school.
And it is, as Jill Burdette, Jenna’s mother, said, “half an hour from any store.”
Growing up, Jenna and Jonathan would show cattle from their grandfather’s farm. “Jenna would always take animals to the county fair,” Jonathan said.
And the two would play basketball.
For AAU ball, Jenna traveled 80 miles to Huntington, West Virginia, to play for the West Virginia Thunder; while she was playing for the team, it won its first national championship.
At Reedsville Eastern High School (enrollment about 200), Jenna’s coach was her dad, John. Jenna was four times first-team All-Ohio. In her senior year, she was Division IV Player of the Year, and Reedsville won the state championship.
When the time for college came, her mother said, Jenna made lists of what she wanted and did not want. She was looking for a relatively small Division I school. Dayton was within a three-hour drive; she liked the coaches; and the team needed a point guard.
She did for a while think, her mother said, that she’d be the only member of her class on the team. Then she had a roommate and teammate named Layfield — and two years later another teammate named Harris.
Their junior year, Harris’ first on the court, saw the Flyers, for the first time in program history, win both the A-10 regular season and championship titles. This year, as seniors, they went on a 16-game winning streak to again grab the A-10 regular season title, only to lose in the tournament semifinals to George Washington, 58-53. The seniors then turned their eyes toward a possible at-large bid in the NCAA tournament, in hopes of another day to play, together.
Editor’s note: The Flyers received an at-large bid to play in the 2018 NCAA tournament. The team lost in the first round to Marquette, 65-84.No Comments
The northwest Ohio alumni community has had a busy year. Last summer, alumni volunteered with the Toledo YES Project, where 120 to 150 youth and adult volunteers come together for four days of Christian service. Alumni hosted a speaker who gave tips on using LinkedIn. And the community organized gamewatch parties for the minor league baseball Toledo Mud Hens and Flyers basketball. When not volunteering or getting together, alumni experience the rich culture of Toledo with activities on Lake Erie, visiting the Toledo Museum of Art or Toledo Zoo, or paying homage to the city’s history of glass production by visiting the Glass Pavilion. And whenever possible, they stop at Tony Packo’s for a quick bite.
Made famous from its regular reference on the television show M*A*S*H, we asked alumni:
Are Tony Packo’s hot dogs really that good, and why?
“Tony Packo’s is the best! When you go, you have to order the chicken chili mac. It’s a lightly sweet chicken chili on top of their Hungarian dumplings. I devour it every time!”—Nicole Susdorf ’09
“Tony Packo’s is extremely similar to Skyline in the way the locals view it. People living in Cincinnati/Dayton love Skyline just as Toledo locals love Tony Packo’s. If you are ever in the area I would highly recommend going. Tony Packo’s dog is much better than Skyline’s Cheese Coney, and the wall decor of a bunch of hot dog buns being signed by famous celebrities is also a fun touch.”—Chris Alleman ’15
“Tony Packo’s hot dogs are as advertised. It’s a great local quality food that has a distinct flavor. Nothing beats their chili cheese dogs!” —David Theby ’09
Alumni by the numbers
Total Alumni 1,504
Flyer Fusions 145
Most 2000s (with 320)
Education & Health Sciences 554
Arts & Sciences 462
Law 23No Comments
A blog by Cameron Collins ’94
Collins never imagined that the success of his personal blog “Distilled History” — a St. Louis history and drinking blog — would lead to a book deal. The idea of the blog began when he wanted to learn more about the city’s rich history. But he also wanted to throw in a twist. Collins writes, “If you know me, you know I’m a big fan of two things: history and drinking. Specifically,
St. Louis history and, specifically, drinking well-made cocktails.” Collins hunts for bits of under-the-radar history and then stops for a drink on the way. His blog led to his first book, Lost Treasures of St. Louis. For more information, visit www.distilledhistory.com.
For a few days in March, UD Arena becomes more than just another venue hosting a major national sporting event. It turns into a 13,000-seat classroom.
During the First Four, the opening round of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, UD students work behind the scenes with the Division of Athletics to assist with communications, facilities management, ticketing, athletic training and other functions necessary for successful event execution. Student journalists from University of Dayton Magazine also attend to cover the event for the alumni audience. (Follow their work on Twitter @daymag.)
And, during the last three years, the First Four has given one class an opportunity to integrate the NCAA tournament into its regular course work. Students from a sports media class spend an afternoon at the Arena attending press conferences, observing reporters at work and taking in the pregame buzz before that night’s First Four games.
The students, mostly juniors and seniors, are sport management majors in the Department of Health and Sport Science in the
School of Education and Health Sciences. Their class helps students understand the role of media and communications in the sports and recreation industry and prepares them for careers in the field.
“This is a great opportunity for students to take a look behind the scenes at a major sporting event,” said JoAn Scott, managing director of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship. “The University of Dayton does a great job in organizing and hosting the First Four games, and these students get a first-hand look at what it takes to conduct such a huge event.”
Doug Hauschild, director of athletics communications, works with the NCAA to secure short-term passes for the 10 to 15 students who attend the media availability. They arrive shortly after noon on Tuesday and attend the press conferences for the teams scheduled to play on Wednesday. The passes give students access to the media workroom, the press conference area, locker rooms and courtside media seating, where they can observe open practices and talk to professional communicators at work.
In 2017, students chatted with CBS/Turner Sports broadcaster and former NBA/college basketball star Steve Smith, who shared stories about his broadcast career and his pregame prep routine.
Since 2001, UD Arena has hosted at least one game in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, from the play-in game that ran 2001-10 to the First Four, which started in 2011 and is guaranteed to take place in Dayton until 2022. The facility has also hosted first- and second-round games in the men’s tournament and regional games in the women’s tournament. Because of the Arena’s prolific record as a tournament venue, UD students have been able to list NCAA tournament experience on their résumés in the relevant experience category, sometimes for four consecutive years.
“March Madness is a three-week run of tremendous college basketball, with many eyes of the nation and the world focused on the games,” Scott said. “We are happy to extend the students this opportunity, and who knows, one or more of them might be interested enough to someday work in event or media operations and maybe even on this tournament.”
Shannon Shelton Miller has served as the instructor for HSS 353: Sports Media and launched the student site visit during the 2016 First Four. She is a UD editor and a frequent contributor to University of Dayton Magazine. Her story appeared in the spring 2018 issue.
A book by Patrick Wensink ’02
Although Wensink has written five books for adults, Go Go Gorillas: A Romping Bedtime Tale (HarperCollins, 2017), is the writer’s
first children’s book. Wensink took inspiration from family trips to the zoo with his wife and then-2-year-old child. As his son kept asking why the gorillas were always sleeping, Wensink would make up stories about what made them so sleepy during the day. Eventually, the idea of apes who stayed up dancing all night took shape. During talks with his editor, he said, “Several times we said things like, ‘Would a gorilla really dance the watusi? What kind of records would a baby ape play if he were deejaying?’ These are silly conversations but also show how seriously we thought about children’s literature.” Wensink is currently putting the final touches on the sequel, Go Go Bananas, which is set to be published in 2018.
The relatively new Orange County, California, chapter is driven by service first, which is where the largest participation of alumni always occurs. The OC community volunteers with Second Harvest, a food bank, packing thousands of meals for homeless shelters throughout the area. The community also works with the Village of Hope, which shelters homeless families. Orange County is home to tourist attractions such as Anaheim and Disneyland. Not to be outdone by the inland activities, the Southern California coastline adds to quality of life through boating and other water activities, which even includes whale watching.
We asked a few alumni in the area:
If Rudy Flyer could choose one Disney character as his sidekick, who would it be and why?
“Buzz Lightyear, because they’d be able to fly around all day and hang out on porches all night!”—Mike Lamorgese ’14
“I think Rudy Flyer would pick Tinkerbell as his sidekick. She and Rudy share a love of flying; she is capable of supporting both Peter Pan and Rudy; and we could use some pixie dust to continue our postseason appearances.”—Steve Tomassi ’74
“I would say that Rudy would probably choose both Peter Pan and Aladdin for wingmen, primarily for their gravity-defeating abilities. Rudy’s relentless enthusiasm would be coupled greatly by Peter Pan’s curiosity and interest in mischief, as well as enhanced by the adventure-searching yet grounded diamond-in-the-rough qualities of Aladdin. No matter what adventures they may face as a team, it would be a fun trio to see in action.”—Stephanie Grant ’01
Alumni by the numbers
Total Alumni 453
Flyer Fusions 47
Most 1970s with 119
Arts & Sciences 136
Education & Health Sciences 68
Law 14No Comments
A book by Lisa Barrickman ’96
When Lisa Barrickman started to think about her 40th birthday, she was thankful for the years she had lived and wanted her celebration to be a reflection of that gratitude by practicing 40 days of intentional kindness leading up to her birthday. She left a basket of toys at a park or taped a baggie of coins to a parking meter. Once others heard about her kindness journey, they were excited, too. Many joined her, and together they scattered more than 20,000 acts of kindness. Her book, A Case for Kindness, will be released June 27, 2017, and gives readers practical ways to spread kindness in the world. “The great thing about kindness is that we never know where our good deeds end,” she says.No Comments
A book by Larry Campanella ’78
With more than 40 years of experience in the fitness field, Larry Campanella published his first food guide in November 2016. Larry’s Healthy 21 Day Food Guide helps those interested in bodybuilding, losing weight or simply eating healthy,
planned-out meals. The book also includes gluten-free recipes. Campanella said, “My major philosophy is that portion control is the key to success, as well as a nutritionally balanced healthy diet.” Fifty percent of book sales go directly to Elijah’s Food Kitchen, a food bank in Campanella’s hometown of New Brunswick, New Jersey. Flyers are invited to contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alumni who live in the Raleigh/Durham community can boast about living near one of the world’s greatest technological research parks, known as Research Triangle, where multibillion-dollar companies such as Lenovo and Cisco maintain headquarters.
The area is also home to Duke University, University of North Carolina and North Carolina State. Raleigh is known as the City of Oaks, and the area has three wineries, two distilleries and 21 craft breweries. For its Christmas off Campus event, the group volunteered with Clubs in the City Urban Youth Development, where they provided lunch for at-risk youth, decorated the cafeteria and set up a new basketball rim.
We asked a few alumni in the area:
What do you like best about living in Raleigh/Durham?
“Three primary things. First and foremost, the people who live in North Carolina are absolutely the nicest people you could meet. Secondly, it’s a great place to raise kids. And lastly, Raleigh is located two hours from the beach and two hours from the mountains. Great place to get outside and stay active.” —Bob Glaser ’83
“I had the chance to live in other cities prior to moving to Raleigh, but none of them compare when it comes to beauty, hospitality, opportunity and growth. It’s like you get all the best qualities of the East, Midwest and South regions combined. Plus, Raleigh still manages to maintain its small-town feel even though it’s rapidly growing. I think that is one thing that Raleigh natives really cherish.” —Ben Inkrott ’13
“Its location. It’s almost exactly in the middle between the mountains in the west and the beach to the east. It’s warmer than Ohio in winter. Also, you get to see three great college basketball teams, a Class AAA baseball team and an NHL
hockey team.” —Brian Rapp ’76
“My two favorite parts about living in the Raleigh/Durham area are the college rivalry among NC State, Duke and Carolina, and the ability to get to the beach in two hours. I grew up with constant chatter about the ‘Tobacco Road’ showdown between Duke and Carolina, and it makes for a great game watch! Also, going to school in Ohio taught me not to take this quick
two-hour drive to the beach for granted.” —Danielle Glaser ’12
Alumni By the Numbers
Total Alumni 578
Flyer Fusions 112
Most 1990s with 143
Arts & Sciences 263
Education & Health Sciences 86
Law 22No Comments